Parliamentary Election campaign scenario remains unchanged
The authorities will control the main stage of the campaign: counting the votes. This year’s scenario remains unchanged for the opposition and becomes a ‘test trial’ for the members of quaNGO “Belaya Rus” [White Russia].
By August 9, 6301 district election commissions for the parliamentary elections in September were formed. Among 68,945 commissions’ members less than 0.1% is the opposition.
Two main quangos, “Belaya Rus” and the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus have been extraordinary active during this campaign. There will be 4189 (6.1%) members of “Belaya Rus” represented in the precinct election commissions and 9418 representatives of the FPB (13.7%).
“Belaya Rus” leadership had repeatedly emphasized its readiness to support the governmental policy during this campaign therefore work of “Belaya Rus” activists in the election commissions would be put through a loyalty to the authorities’ test. “Belaya Rus” is taking part in the elections to test its capabilities and assets for the organization of local, parliamentary and presidential election campaigns in the future.
At the same time, representation of opposition parties and movements in the local election commissions is very low. For example, political parties “Fair World”, Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Gromada), United Civil Party, and the BPF managed to register 61 representatives in the precinct election commissions all together (with zero representation in the Minsk city).
Therefore, there are no changes in the way the ongoing election campaign is carried out. The deterioration of the Belarusian foreign relations, namely, the Swedish-Belarusian diplomatic row also lies within the usual trend. In this context, there are little chances anything might change: very little time is left before the 23rd September, the Election Day.
The Belarusian authorities could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.